Kings can do everything. As a high-level group of borrowers defeated the largest medieval Bank
Material posted: Publication date: 31-08-2014

Knight Templars known not only for its feats of arms. The Templars were skilled financiers and managed to build a powerful banking Empire. They owe the whole of Europe — from common people to powerful rulers. The wealth of the Templars grew rapidly, and it seemed that soon the order will become the most influential organization on the continent. The knights didn't. The kings are greedy and envious, to pay the bills they don't like. Thus, the inventors of checks and master of the double-entry bookkeeping — the knights Templar — become a victim of his own power.

A poor start

Began one of the richest orders of Europe, to put it mildly, modestly. French knight Hugues de Payne in 1119 gathered more family members and made of them a small unit, designed to protect pilgrims on their way to the Holy land. The order was so poor that there were not enough horses — one horse is often ridden by two people. This scene is depicted on the seals of the order, which survived to our days. In General, they were so poor that at first they were called the poor knights.

The order gradually gained the capital, however, is not monetary, but moral. He has earned a good reputation, and as a reward he was granted the first headquarters in the al-Aqsa mosque on Jerusalem's Temple mount. Since then, the knights called Templars, or the Templars. Gradually they became more and more popularity grew, and in order that the river flowed donations of money and land. Someone tried so to atone for their own sins, and someone invested in the development of God's work.

Finally, the Templars stood on its own feet and become strong enough that they drew attention in Rome. 20 years after the founding of the order of Pope innocent II exempted him from taxes and gave to the knights of medieval "Schengen visas", allowing to freely cross borders. In addition, a special act of the Pope put the order in direct subordination. It was a breakthrough in the world of big politics. But the Templars would have remained one of many orders, if I didn't understand how to use financial tools.

Knight the Bank

Templar understood the importance of sound economic program for the sustainable development of the organization. The order has developed and successfully implemented several innovative for its time solutions, and skillfully took advantage of existing financial schemes. All this allowed the Templars to build an economic system through which it was possible to exert pressure on kings, to wage a successful war, and then to recover.

First, the order bought from the Pope the right to conduct financial transactions. In our time, would say that the Central Bank has licensed a new credit institution, but then the regulator was sitting in the Vatican. Since then, the knights Templar can be considered a full-fledged Bank. The need in financial transactions originated from for security reasons. The path to the Holy land from Europe was long and dangerous — everywhere ransacked, the robbers and murderers who successfully robbed even of armed knights. To carry money and jewels was very risky. To turn the tide, the temple up the checks. A small piece of parchment with a fingerprint of the owner on the wax were replaced by heavy purses full of coins. Knight came to the Templars and gave them their money in exchange for a check. Throughout Europe there was wide spread network of branches of the order of preceptories, in any of which the knight could get their money, presenting a paper. In General, the classical Bank Deposit. The Templars even gave the account statement — paper on the current balance of the client Crusader.

Templar was involved in including and lending. There, they became competitors of the Italian and Jewish moneylenders. The knights were given loans on preferential terms at 10 percent per annum. While other lenders offered to take the money at 40 per cent. Credit the knights Templar were granted bail "land and the fruits of it." Knights mortgaged their locks together with subsistence farming and often paid the order just chickens, pigs and other food. This allowed the order to do charity work — you have received goods go to food for the poor.

Compared to other lenders in order had a distinct advantage. He was under the protection of the Pope. So the attack on its premises was considered not only a crime but a sacrilege. In addition to prison the offender was waiting for excommunication and a curse. The criminal element avoided preceptory Templar. The protection of Rome was more reliable locks and guards. Medieval oligarchs, knowing this, gave the order of their wealth for safekeeping. And here's another similarity with modern banks, where you can rent cell.

Gradually financial Empire the Templars grew — more money, real estate and knights. And in some parts of Europe, the order assumes the functions of the state. The knights, at his expense, paid protected paving roads, building fortifications, temples, bridges. To 1300 the lands of the Templars had increased to almost 11 thousand manuarii. For reference: one manuary is a plot of land measuring about 100 hectares, with income from which can contain one knight. The budget of the order in those years is estimated at about 8 million pounds. The Treasury of France in those years was 2 million pounds. This was the peak power of the Templars.

Ultimately on the threshold of a knight's Bank lined up to the powers that be. The kings really needed the money to maintain their power and wage war. Yet where to go, if not to the Templar — the most powerful financiers of that time?! King of England Henry III had filled the Treasury, taking out a loan in order secured their diamonds. The debt was extinguished only the next ruler Edward I. King of France Louis IX borrowed money from the Templars for his own redemption from captivity after an unsuccessful Seventh crusade. Moreover, the knights Templar used as hired managers for financial recovery. For example, the Minister of Finance under the French king Philip II was the Treasurer of the order. At the same Louis IX of the state Treasury was kept by the knights Templar.

The increased power of the order could not remain unpunished. The kings were outraged freemen Templar who disobeyed secular authorities. Church authorities, in turn, also lost control over them. In the end, the French king Philip IV the fair (red-Nosed), who was one of the largest debtors of the order, and Pope Clement V quickly found a common language.

Hostile takeover

The knights were accused of conspiracy against the European kings and heresy. In particular, they were charged for the renunciation of Christ and the worship of Baphomet — the devil. With the consent of the Pope and with the active participation of Philip IV the Templars were arrested throughout Europe. The defeat of the order, which began in 1307, continued for several years. On trumped-up charges of the knights were imprisoned or exiled to monasteries.

In 1312 the Templars were dissolved, their property was handed over to loyal to the Pope to the knights Hospitaller. Philip IV also appropriated significant wealth. A hostile takeover was successful. After two years with the Templars cracked down finally. The top of the order refused the testimony given under torture, and insisted on his innocence. They were sentenced to be burned at the stake as re-fallen into heresy.

According to the legend, the last master of the knights Templar Jacques de Molay had cursed out of the fire everyone who was involved in the destruction of the order: "less than a year, as I will call you on judgment day!" It remains unknown whether he really spoke these words. Pope Clement V did not live after that and two months. In the autumn of 1314, Philip IV died. Three of his sons, nicknamed "the accursed kings", also died. In the end, the ruling dynasty was left without heirs.

Thus ended the story of the knights Templar. But their financial activity has greatly influenced the future development of Europe. In particular, the economic developments of the order became the basis for the formation of early capitalism through the centuries and has also helped in the development of banking.


Tags: financial center , finances